See What Happened Was...
fun stories from history
What makes a pirate?
Who are his parents?
What was his first day of work like?
What does he feed his parrot?
While we may never know the truth for many pirates (cause they weren’t real), we do know a bit about one particular, very special pirate: Sir Francis Drake.
Drake was born between 1540 and 1544 (ok so we don’t know everything about him, there aren’t many written records from that time). Francis was the oldest of twelve sons, which might explain his proclivity for theft. He probably had to steal scraps from his brothers to survive. Edmund, his father, was a farmer for the second earl of Bedford. So, humble beginnings for Francis. I mean, not even the first earl.
Young Francis was sent to work for his father’s family who ran a shipping business (and occasionally practiced piracy). So essentially he just carried on the family business; but like the weird side of the family’s—the shady mob side. He was probably teased by all his streetwise cousins about his clean fingernails and swank cottage life back home.
Either way, Francis did well there and soon inherited his own ship, named Judith (odd name for a ship—maybe it was meant to be disarming). It was time to wreak some havoc of his own.
One of Drake’s greatest claims to fame is that he was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. Turns out that when he set sail in 1572, that was not exactly his purpose. He was given a (secret) privateer’s commission from Queen Elizabeth I to go to New World and rob Spanish ports—essentially giving him permission to be a pirate as long as it was at the expense Spanish ships. Like if you knew you couldn’t stop your dog from peeing in places he wasn’t supposed to, so you just trained him to pee in the yard of your least favorite neighbor. Actually, privateers such as himself were called “sea dogs.”
He led this pirate venture from his flagship, the Golden Hind (he had improved at naming ships). He was so successful that by the time he returned to England he was the richest pirate in the world and knighted by Queen Elizabeth.
At this point the king of Spain was not a huge fan of England and their use of privateers. He began to prepare the famed Spanish Armada. Drake got word of this and, having none of it, took a fleet of his own and wrecked 30-40 Spanish ships and tons of supplies.
After all this sailing and piracy he decided it was time to settle down for a while. He bought a lavish estate, became a Member of Parliament, and mayor of Plymouth. Whenever he got bored though he would go out on raids against the Spanish holdings in the New World.
In 1596, despite these incredible feats, Sir Francis died somewhat anticlimactically and tragically of dysentery. But he sure did live a full life.